Four Canine Viruses in Arctic Fox From the NPR-A

Principal Investigators Brian Person, Ph.D.
Collaborators Co-PI, Dr. Karsten Hueffer, and graduate student Katie Kokx (UAF)
Funding Alaska Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development


Viral pathogens play an important role in regulating animal populations throughout the world. Despite this, their role in arctic ecosystems is poorly understood and warrants further investigation. Arctic foxes (Vulpes [Alopex] lagopus) are terrestrial carnivores that have a circumpolar distribution in the arctic. Long-distant movements, and a tendency for visiting human habitats where they scavenge and hunt for food potentially exposes foxes to a greater assortment of diseases than other large carnivores and marine mammals of the arctic region. This suggests that arctic foxes are excellent candidates for monitoring the current presence and future trends of canine viral pathogens and other infectious pathogens in the arctic environment.

The primary research goal is to determine prevalence of four major canine viruses: Rabies, Canine Distemper Virus (CDV), Canine Parvovirus (CPV), and Canine Adenovirus (CAV) among the arctic fox population of the National Petroleum Reserve, Alaska (NPR-A) and other outlying regions of northern Alaska. Two of these viruses, rabies and distemper, are known zoonotics (able to be transferred from animals to humans). Various techniques will be used to diagnose viruses in tissues collected from the years 2005 through 2011. Results gained from these tests will be important in determining whether arctic foxes are reservoirs for each particular virus and if they have the potential to transmit these viruses to other susceptible animals, including humans, in the arctic environment.

Preliminary results pending.


Banner photo credit: Brian Person

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